Study: Firefox still gaining on Internet Explorer

Mozilla Foundation continues to chip away at Microsoft's dominance, though nearly 19 of every 20 Web surfers still uses Internet Explorer.

Alternative Web browsers Mozilla and Firefox experienced another month of growth at the expense of Microsoft's dominant Internet Explorer, according to an online study.

The percentage of Americans using Mozilla and Firefox, two open-source browsers funded by the Mozilla Foundation, grew to 6 percent in October from 5.2 percent in September and 3.5 percent in June. That 6 percent was split evenly between the two browsers.

While Microsoft's IE continued as the overwhelming market leader, it witnessed another marginal decline, this time a dip of 0.8 percent. IE claimed 95.5 percent of users in June, 93.7 percent in September, and 92.9 percent last month. The Opera browser and Apple Computer's Safari combined reached just more than 1 percent of users.

Changing tides

Open-source browsers such as Firefox, as well as Apple Computer's Safari, seem to be stealing market share from Microsoft's dominant Internet Explorer.

Usage (percent)
BrowserJune 4Oct. 29Change
Internet Explorer95.4892.86- 2.62
Netscape / Mozilla3.546.02*+ 2.48
Others**0.971.11+ 0.14
* Includes Firefox
** Includes Safari and Opera
Source: WebSideStory
WebSideStory measures market share by embedding sensors on major Web sites for the Walt Disney Internet Group, Best Buy, Sony, DaimlerChrysler and Liz Claiborne. These sensors can tell which browsers visitors are using to view the sites.

In the big picture, Mozilla and Firefox are specks of dust compared with the near-ubiquity of Internet Explorer. But given IE's fifth consecutive month of decline and Mozilla/Firefox's fifth consecutive month of growth, analysts are beginning to wonder whether and when the shift will stop.

"What we're seeing is (Mozilla and Firefox) looking more like a vanguard than a flash in a pan," said Geoff Johnston, an analyst at WebSideStory.

The study comes just ahead of Firefox's official release on Nov. 9. The browser, based on Mozilla's open-source code, has experienced a surprising surge in popularity, reaching 5 million downloads two weeks ago, then later passing 7 million.

Last weekend, the Mozilla Foundation said the project has raised more than $250,000 during its 10-day donation drive. The money will be spent to promote Firefox 1.0's release. Developers working on Firefox hope the software will reach 10 percent U.S. penetration by the end of 2005.

Firefox may continue to show gains, but the software could reach a ceiling, according to WebSideStory's Johnston. Most of its users are technology-proficient early adopters rather than average Web surfers. "(Firefox) hasn't gotten to mainstream," he said.

Featured Video
This content is rated TV-MA, and is for viewers 18 years or older. Are you of age?
Sorry, you are not old enough to view this content.

Details about Apple's 'spaceship' campus from the drone pilot who flies over it

MyithZ has one of the most popular aerial photography channels on YouTube. With the exception of revealing his identity, he is an open book as he shares with CNET's Brian Tong the drone hardware he uses to capture flyover shots of the construction of Apple's new campus, which looks remarkably like an alien craft.

by Brian Tong